I was wondering if the colloquialism of "Two wrongs don't make a right." has been considered anywhere in the ethics literature.

Maybe it could interesting to hear where this thought comes from.

  • Do you mean inquiries in professional ethics (which means things like "how should doctors treat patients ethically?) or by professional ethicists of the more general sort (meaning people who study the nature of right and wrong)
    – virmaior
    Jan 30 '15 at 7:42
  • The second one.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 30 '15 at 8:34

When something is non-controversially true, usually philosophers don't discuss it. And two wrongs don't make a right seems to fall in this category. But, it's not hard to think of examples of two wrongs make a right style thinking. For example, punishment might be seen as such. Look up punishment at the SEP, and you will find philosophers basically arguing that punishment is two wrongs make a right style thinking. Since this is ethical literature, such has been treated in the literature.


Found this on wikipedia.

"Common use of the term, in the realm of business ethics, has been criticized by scholar Gregory S. Kavka writing in the Journal of Business Ethics. Kavka refers back to philosophical concepts of retribution by Thomas Hobbes."

Also the eye for an eye

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